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April 5, 2011

An Interview With Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Part 3

Will Kismet be Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's next Shutterfly? Photo by Lisa Slade.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum is back in the tack and winning after giving birth to a daughter in 2010. She’s agreed to periodic interviews about her life during the Rolex World Cup season. Read her thoughts about her homecoming this winter and the upcoming Rolex FEI World Cup Final.

Q. Tell us about your time in California this winter.

A. I had a wonderful time spending the last six weeks in California, not far from where I grew up. I brought some young horses with me and showed at the HITS shows in Thermal. I could ride my Kaanan mare, Kismet, in the World Cup qualifiers and the grand prix classes. She was clear in nearly every round and won many good ribbons, including a third place in a WC qualifier and a fourth place in the $200,000 grand prix.

I also rode my gelding, Lancaster, in the grand prix classes, where he was able to win one and be second in another.

These two horses are my up-and-coming stars of the future; my mare Oak Grove’s Beirut also made great strides forward. But a highlight was also the quality time I was able to spend with my family and friends. Markus was there busy training some promising young riders. And of course, my pride and joy, my daughter, Brianne Victoria, was also with me. We had a great time celebrating her first birthday, which I could top off with a grand prix win on the same day.

It’s been 20 years since I rode in California, and I didn’t know how people would react to me returning. I was overjoyed to receive an incredibly warm welcome and a “welcome home” from the people there.

In the middle of the circuit I flew back to Germany for two days to give the old guys (Shutterfly and Checkmate) some training ahead of the Global Champions Tour leg in Doha, Qatar. This interim trip was terrible. Not just because of two 11-hour flights and jet lag, but because I got stuck in the San Francisco airport for 12 hours! However, it was essential because my plan was to fly directly to Doha from California at the end of the circuit. I needed to ride Shutterfly and Checkmate to keep them in form since I wouldn’t have ridden them in six weeks. I can’t explain how delighted I was when the plan paid off. Shutterfly was third in the GCT Grand Prix in Doha, and Checkmate was clear, a week later, in the World Cup class in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. I owe a lot of credit to my groom/rider, Anu, who kept these two horses in beautiful shape while I was gone.

Q. Tell us more about the World Cup Qualifier in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

A. As I mentioned, I was very happy with Checkmate in the last WC qualifier. He showed super form, especially in the first round where he jumped brilliantly. I was having an incredible round in the jump-off as well, riding to win… but at the penultimate fence, when I tried to take a really short turn, Checkmate ducked out. I don’t think he really had his eye on the fence. I couldn’t be too upset and actually consider it a small mistake. He was so close to winning the World Cup that I feel positive going into the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Leipzig. I am excited for the challenge.

Q. What are your plans for the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Leipzig?

A. I’ve ridden in Leipzig, Germany, in many World Cup qualifiers over the years; however, I haven’t competed at a Final there yet. In 2002, I was injured just a few days before the Final. I am sure that it will be a great event this year. The Leipzig Exhibition Centre is a fantastic facility.

It is extremely encouraging to see Germany so well represented this year. It is even more encouraging when looking at the number of ladies taking part—11 out of 45 Finalists.

Frank Rothenberger is without doubt an excellent course designer, arguably one of the best course designers in the world. He is extremely well respected amongst the riding fraternity. He is definitely going to set a tough test. Whoever is crowned the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup champion will absolutely deserve it. It will not be an easy feat! The ring is large and the ground fantastic, so I am sure we will see some enormous fences.

Q. What are your plans after the Final?

A. Things will move very quickly after the Final with the Valencia, Spain, leg of the Global Champions Tour from May 6-8. My plan is to use Shutterfly there. However, I will be careful with him because he is 18 years old now. I am grateful and appreciative of every time I get to ride and enjoy him. I am excited to bring along my younger, less experienced horses. Maybe one of them will have a little “Shutterfly” in them…

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, 41, was born in the United States but moved to Germany in 1991 and married Markus Beerbaum in 1998. She rides for Germany and holds team and individual bronze medals from the 2006 Aachen, Germany, World Equestrian Games as well as team gold from the 2010 WEG. She is a three-time World Cup winner and is a Rolex equestrian sports Testimonee.

Read Part 1 of Meredith's interviews.
Read Part 2 of Meredith's interviews.

The Chronicle will be in Leipzig to bring you all the news from the Rolex FEI World Cup. Be sure to check back on www.chronofhorse.com, starting Thursday, April 28.